India's external debt down 2.27% at $471.9 billion at end-March 2017

16 September 2017

India's external debt stood at $471.9 billion at end-March 2017, declining by $13.1 billion (or 2.27 per cent) over the level at end-March 2016, as per dta released by the finance ministry.

The decline in external debt was due to the decrease in long-term debt, particularly NRI deposits and commercial borrowings, as per the 'India's External Debt: A Status Report 2016-17' prepared  by the finance ministry.

The report, which is based on Reserve Bank of India estimates showed that  at the end of March 2017, the country's long-term external debt stood at $383.9 billion, showing a decrease of 4.4 per cent over the level at end-March 2016.

Long-term external debt accounted for 81.4 per cent of total external debt at end-March 2017 compared to82.8 per cent at end-March 2016.

Short-term external debt increased by 5.5 per cent to $88.0 billion at end-March 2017. This, according to the finance ministry release, has been due mainly to an increase in trade related credits, a major component of short-term debt with a share of 98.3 per cent.

Government (sovereign) external debt increased from $93.4 billion at end-March 2016 to $95.8 billion at end-March 2017, and constituted 20.3 per cent of the total external debt compared to 19.3 per cent in the previous year.

There has, however, been an increase in the country's external debt position with the foreign exchange reserve cover to debt increasing to 78.4 per cent in 2016-17 from 74.3 per cent in 2015-16.

The ratio of external debt to the country's gross national product (GDP) also declined to 20.2 per cent in 2016-17 from 23.5 per cent in the previous year.

The release noted that India's external debt continues to be dominated by long-term borrowings.

Based on `International Debt Statistics 2017' of the World Bank which presents the debt data for 2015, shows that the ratio of India's external debt stock to gross national income (GNI) at 23.4 per cent was the fifth lowest and among developing indebted countries. In terms of the cover provided by foreign exchange reserves to external debt, India's position was sixth highest at 69.7 per cent in 2015.

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